Bassmaster Elite Series pro Chris Zaldain is well-known in the bass fishing world for being a swimbait aficionado. Whether he is looking for five big bites in a tournament or enjoying his local Texas fisheries during our current quarantine, you can bet the Zaldaingerous one has a big swimbait or two at the ready.
Large swimbaits can intimidate anglers of all skill levels. It’s a presentation that requires confidence, as you may not get a bunch of bites with a big swimmer, but you could catch the fish of a lifetime. Fortunately, Zaldain graciously offered a pair of helpful tips to shorten the learning curve associated with this technique. Zaldain emphasizes now is the perfect time to try an oversized swimbait at your local fishery.
1) Replace your spinnerbait
Spinnerbaits are a springtime staple in bass fishing. They are almost as reliable as Zaldain’s Yamaha Outboard and are something most anglers have some experience with. Zaldain’s first tip for swimbait greenhorns is to replace your 3/8-ounce spinnerbait with a big swimbait.
“All the conditions and clues you’d look for to throw a spinnerbait also apply for big swimbaits,” Zaldain explained. “Perfect conditions would be a little bit of cloud cover and a fair bit of wind. Target windy points, isolated laydowns, bridges or any other obvious pieces of isolated shallow cover. Another thing a lot of people don’t realize is off-colored water is a good thing for swimbaits.”
The Carhartt pro mainly employs two sizes of the Megabass Magdraft Swimbait, the 6-inch and 8-inch versions. And he isn’t embellishing when he says he throws these lures in the same scenarios most anglers would reach for spinnerbait, ChatterBait or other more traditional offerings.
This one little tip takes a lot of the intimidation factor out of swimbaiting. By thinking of a beefy swimbait as a replacement for your spinnerbait you now know where to throw it and what conditions improve the bite.
2) Fish it ‘uphill'
Zaldain’s second tip to help you gain confidence with a big swimbait is to fish it uphill. More specifically, nose your boat as if you are fishing from the bank, cast the swimbait out towards deeper, open water and reel it towards the shore.
“Fishing a swimbait uphill will help you get more bites if you are just starting out with them,” Zaldain said. “Casting the bait to deeper water and then slowly rolling it back towards the shallows does two important things. It keeps your lure in the strike zone longer, and shows big pressured bass something they aren’t as used to seeing,”
This tactic takes a little positioning if you are in a boat, but is great news for the bank anglers out there. Fishing off the shore is a perfect place to try one of these swimbaits for the first time. Just remember to bring your swim trunks with you, as big swimbaits can be relatively expensive and you’d hate to loose one to a snag.
If Zaldain had to resort to one single swimbait he’d choose a 6-inch Magdraft in Albino Pearl Shad color and throw it on 15-pound Seaguar InvisX fluorocarbon. The right rod is another integral part of the setup and Zaldain throws 95% of his swimbaits on a 7-foot, 2-inch Heavy Megabass Orichi XX (Perfect Pitch) rod.
While Zaldain has his swimbait equipment down to a science, he emphasizes that most traditional jig rods will work great for a big swimbait. A 7-foot plus heavy action rod that is relatively stiff will get the job done. For more detailed tips on swimbaits and other techniques – follow Chris on Facebook, Instagram, or checkout his new YouTube channel.
Get outside, be safe, #FishSmart and give a big swimbait a shot this spring whether you are trying to learn a new technique or you are after your new personal best bass.